Various researches have claimed that cannabis may represent a promising alternative for the treatment of numerous different physical and mental health conditions, from post-traumatic stress disorder to chronic pain. This week, a new study appeared which suggests that depression is also one of them.
A team of neuroscientists from the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, discovered that endocannabinoids -- chemical compounds in the brain that activate the same receptors as THC, an active compound in marijuana -- may be helpful in treating depression caused by chronic stress.
In rat studies, scientists discovered that the production of endocannabinoids was reduced by chronic stress, and they affect human cognition, emotion and behavior, and have been linked to reduced feelings of pain and anxiety, increases in appetite and overall feelings of well-being. The body naturally produces these compounds, which are similar to the chemicals in cannabis. Reduction of endocannabinoid production may be one reason that chronic stress is a major risk factor in the development of depression.
After this, the team administered marijuana cannabinoids to the rats, finding it to be an effective way to restore endocannabinoid levels in their brains -- possibly, thereby, alleviating some symptoms of depression.
The lead researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane, for a university press release, claimed that we can potentially help I the stabilization of moods and ease depression by consuming compounds derived from cannabis -- marijuana, due to its effect on restoring normal endocannabinoid function.
The journal Neuropsychopharmacology published a study last year whose findings stated that synthetic cannabinoids triggered changes in brain centers associated with traumatic memories in rats, preventing some of the behavioral and physiological symptoms of PTSD. Another study published last year proved that patients who smoked cannabis experienced a 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms.
Recent research around marijuana’s effect on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder further bolsters the Buffalo neuroscientists’ findings, since both disorders involve the way the brain responds to stress.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to note that the bond between marijuana and depression is complex. Although a causal link between cannabis use and depression has not been established, certain studies found that regular and heavy marijuana smokers are at a higher risk for depression. It is necessary to have larger number of studies in order to determine if, and if-then how, marijuana might be used in a clinical context for patients with depression.